The University of British Columbia Okanagan has decided to stop weekly COVID-19 testing.
Testing has been required for unvaccinated students, staff, and faculty since September 2021. Starting Jan 1, unvaccinated students who attended in-person classes and failed the weekly test would be placed on an “academic hold”.
The decision to stop testing quietly started on March 1, at both the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses.
A letter from Vancouver Coastal on Feb. 16, recommended that testing didn’t have to be required anymore because the Omicron variant was being transmitted in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people and because it posed less of a threat to people.
“It’s time to ease some of the restrictions that are no longer useful in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said Vancouver Coastal Chief Medical Health officer Patricia Daly.
The letter also suggests not to de-register students based on their vaccination status: “Such measures may result in profound negative harms on their future health and wellbeing, by impacting future educational and career opportunities, and their mental health.”
Getting rid of the weekly testing is in part with knowing more about the severity of COVID-19, along with high vaccination rates. UBC has a 97 per cent vaccination rate.
“The evolution of the virus and the presence of the Omicron variant now indicates that a different public health and safety approach should be taken,” said UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa Ono in a UBC Broadcast.
“In recent weeks, we have seen changes in public health guidance and the lifting of some Public Health Orders, as the wave of the Omicron variant, which now accounts for almost 100 per cent of cases, is subsiding in B.C.”
Students of both campuses found out about testing being dropped via a UBC Broadcast and printed notices posted around the campuses. However, no media release was sent out regarded the change.
Both UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health still recommend that people protect themselves to the fullest by getting double-vaccinated and boosted.